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What do you do when the users in your persona are relatively unavailable to you for testing out elements of a website? Is there existing research out there for the preferences of common user groups, such as CEOs or bank CFOs?

What often happens to me, is that I'm in a meeting and someone asks "What colors appeal most to CEOs?" or "What navigation will work for busy doctors?"

The problem is a) I don't know enough about this group prior to getting to wireframes and the initial solutions I need to propose and b) I don't know how available these group ever will be to me.

I have created personas based on interviews with the client, looking at some stats on the site, etc. but to be perfectly honest, I don't ever see a group of CEOs or surgeons making themselves available to me so that I can bounce color and navigation ideas off of them.

But everyone in the room is turning to me expecting an answer, as though I am well versed in the preferences of CEOs and that they've been documented... somewhere.

So as a freelancer and team of one, how do I get at this information? Especially in the early stages so that I can at least create a well-thought out wireframe with some reasoning behind my decisions. I've created the user persona, now what?

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You might try Verify, with this service you'll be able to design tests for users within a variety of demographics. AskYourUsers is also an option, though it would require a decent budget so you might need to convince your clients to foot the research bill.

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Do you know of any way to find existing research on color theory or navigational approach on demographics? In conferences, I often hear speakers say, "Studies show that X, Y and Z are more successful for A." Where are those studies? –  WP Monkey Jan 28 '13 at 4:19
    
Color theory isn't so much a demographic targeting tool as it is a mood/mindframe targeting tool. For instance, red/yellow/orange (autumn colors) are typically associated with food (look at most fast-food chains if you need proof), and they're "hungry" colors according to color theory. They're going to have that effect on someone regardless of their position within a company. So, my advice would be to try to get into the heads of the demographic you're targeting and figure out what aligns with their desires. Shiny and black tends to convey "premium", so that might be what you're looking for. –  Duncan Smith Jan 28 '13 at 6:33
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